As the weather nosedives into uncertainty and September comes in full swing, my heart goes out to the victims and their families in the United States who have suffered (and continue to) massively at the hands of severe hurricanes, to denizens of Mumbai, where heavy flooding has become a menace and most recently, the people of Mexico City whose lives have been uprooted at the hands of a devastating earthquake, who continue to struggle to find their footing back again.. Nature strikes fast, hard and without consequence. It is in these moments of pain that we must continue to stick together and give the ones suffering as much support as we can muster. It will get better.
If I were to have slept off for the last two months and woken up today to happen upon the news, I would be in a dilemma; to either go back to sleep or to recalibrate my calendar, if something like that is even possible. Nowadays, time doesn’t seem to pass by, it seems to jump and make a run for the door. When it’s not running it is passing by in a hurry, like a scenery outside a bullet train. In Japan. With missiles flying overhead at an even slower pace. Even as I type these lines, I can’t help but feel the ground is slipping beneath my feet, metaphorically and literally, as the world continues to baffle me with each passing day. But I know this; if the ground were to disappear from where we stand, we would sprout wings and take flight. Darwin was onto something and I can respect him for that.
Autumn has always been a captivating time of the year for me. My fondest memories of this time are enshrined in a warm glow of my early teenage years in Panchkula and Chandigarh, cities of incessant surprises and a weather to be bethorted to. If I were to close my eyes and picture August-September in Chandigarh, my mind plays a sepia-toned reel of a road, disguised as a cornucopia of yellow and magenta leaves, an ephemeral bridge joining two opposite lanes, as the rare lone car rushes past columns of dense deciduous trees. To me, the city has always been a living organism which breathes with its seasons and sleeps with the streetlamps on. And when, on the eve of August, a self-proclaimed godman brought this city and especially its beloved neighbour, Panchkula, to a standstill, no one could be seen dancing in the bundles of fallen leaves. As fire and smoke engulfed Panchkula, all semblance of rationality took a backseat and all kinds of socio-political questions came to the fore yet again. Justice be served, as Ram Rahim will go on to spend 20 years behind bars, while my mind ponders the existence of such ‘humans’ while at the same time grasping with the psyche of his followers. It is not as mysterious as it is regrettable.
While these cities battles with an external man-made tragedy, my country remains in a curious, yet frightening climate of rising intolerance, news of which splashes the screens at a troubling pace everyday. Awash in the irony of the right-wing taking center stage, last month saw just how real the fight for dissent has become as the noted journalist and activist, Gauri Lankesh, was shot down outside her own home. She stood for the downtrodden, the ones who couldn’t fight for their rights and the ones who fight for reason. But as we all know, you can’t kill an idea, and her ideas shine ever so brighter in this day and age.
As I start a full-time job, I am filled with equal amounts of apprehension and enthusiasm, and a small degree of doubt if I can live up to my full potential and grow with it. At this pivotal stage in my life, I can’t help but draw parallel with other individuals, abroad, in bigger roles with more responsibilities to take care of. Perhaps, introspection might help them become better people, regardless of their jobs. Talking about introspection and responsibilities, in exactly 9 months, a certain president has consistently tinkered with nuclear warfare, been unable to pass (allegedly) crucial health-care reform, channeled his inner Nazi, embroil himself in an election scandal investigation and continues to “struggle” with social media. If, at some point in future, I realize that I’m massively failing at my job and can’t seem to improve, I will have to wisdom to quit it and go search for better pastures. Maybe a 17-day vacation might help.
The last two months also saw a somewhat miniscule personal milestone as I finished a thousand page book in a four days, an activity which always seemed much harder in theory than it actually turned out to be. The tomb was the succinctly named 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, often considered his magnum opus. Though a engrossing read in itself, Murakami’s true allure still eludes me, even as I continue my task of consuming his books to better understand the furore. But at the end of 1345 pages, I found myself rooting for a classical happy ending, a rare event in any case. If introspection helps at all, my reason for doing so probably stemmed from a projection of something like that happening in the real world I inhabit, not a paradoxical 2Q17. Saying that much, I have taken a plunge into another book which has less of dystopia and more rebellious robots from the future. If all goes well, there won’t be any more projections to deal with this time.
As I wrap up this editorial, I have a hopeful message for the reader; our anthology is finally about to be see the light of the day and we are ever so thankful for your support and love and all the kindness you have bestowed upon us. We realize it has been for a while in the oven, but we wanted it to be perfect for your consumption and, for that, we had to give it some more time.
For the buildup to the anthology, our July-August issue is a fiction only edition and with a slight surprise for you all. Now, for a word from our co-fiction editors :
On a farewell note, I leave you readers with yet another book recommendation, Surely You Must Be Joking Mr. Feynman! By Richard P. Feynman. Straight from the mind of a magical human being and a full-time genius, the book does more for your heart than the gears up in the brain.
To calmer rains and tighter jackets to come,
Anhad Singh Bhatia
Assistant Managing Editor